On August 31, 2019, New York State Senator Bill Larkin (R-Cornwall-on-Hudson) passed away at the age of 91.
A Republican, Sen. Larkin represented Senate District 39 in the lower Hudson Valley from 1991 to 2018, and previously served in the New York State Assembly from 1979 to 1990. Prior to his retirement at the end of last year, the Senator was believed to be one of only two World War II veterans still serving as a state legislator in the United States.
In addition to fighting in the Pacific theater in World War II, Sen. Larkin was also a veteran of the Korean War. He was evacuated from the battlefront in Korea after suffering severe frostbite to his feet. Later in his military career, the Senator helped protect President John F. Kennedy on a visit to Berlin and also met Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. while acting as a military escort during a civil rights march. Sen. Larkin retired from the U.S. Army as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1967 after receiving the Legion of Merit and seven Army Commendation Medals.
As a lawmaker, Sen. Larkin was a staunch advocate for veterans. The Senator helped to create the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor in Orange County, New York, successfully urged the U.S. Postal Service to issue a stamp depicting the Purple Heart, and sponsored a law that caused the Bear Mountain Bridge to be renamed the Purple Heart Veterans Memorial Bridge.
Sen. Larkin won the respect of members of both parties for his selfless dedication to the state and to the nation. New Yorker’s Family Research Foundation developed a relationship with the Senator due to his frequent attendance at our Legislative Bible Study in Albany. Despite experiencing health challenges due to his advanced age and to his wartime injuries, the Senator continued to represent his district until the age of 90. He is survived by his wife, Patricia, along with their eight children, 17 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro paid tribute to Sen. Larkin with the following words: “‘America lost a hero, New York lost a statesman, the Hudson Valley lost a son and advocate and so many lost a mentor, peer and friend. He lived a storied and purely American life – courageous and kind, conscientious and decent, full and honorable. It was my honor to have learned from and served with him. But greatest was the honor we all had in knowing Bill Larkin sacrificed for and served all of us.'”